Spring Rains Now Delaying OK’s Wheat Harvest
Last weekend I made a few trips over to our Western state border down Highway 62, and along the way there seemed to be combines and grain carts in every field between here and Hollis trying to get the wheat on down to the co-op to maximize the price of their crops. It's the same cycle every year... Farmers plant, wheat grows, and they harvest it as soon as possible to ensure they can farm for another year to come. It's a wild time of sixteen hour days, the first hints of Summer heat, and the last chance the weather has to ruin everything. In 2021, while crops are healthy, the wet weather is taking a toll on this years harvest.
You might look at a tractor or combine and think "With those big 'ol tires, I bet those things don't get stuck in anything!" but you'd be incredibly wrong. Yes, the tires are huge, but so is the weight they have to support. Thanks to our lingering cloud cover after the heavy rains, the soaked soils are still soft since the sun hasn't had enough time to dry them out. The slower you pull wheat out of the field, the less it's worth at the co-op.
As wheat matures, it gradually dries out and changes color. If you've ever watched a farmer pop raw seed into his mouth, he's trying to gauge whether it's ready to harvest or not based on how hard it is to chew. The harvest really is a fascinating thing to be a part of. If left in the field too long the wheat will become too dry, and that means a difference in weight. The grain elevator pays by weight, so if it's dry and comes in light, it can be a harvest difference in the tens of thousands of dollars.
While we all hate these extremely hot days, you can take a little comfort knowing it will benefit Oklahoma's agriculture economy far more than it will inconvenience us city slickers. Since we're one of the top wheat producers in the nation, a little heat is acceptable knowing it's exactly what Mother Nature needs right now.
LET'S GO: The most popular historic sites in America